Leaders and the Contribution of Cultures on Their Leadership: Colin Powell, Satya Nadella, and Arnold Schwarzenegger

Published: 2021-07-19
1765 words
7 pages
15 min to read
Vanderbilt University
Type of paper: 
Research paper
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In the exploration of the subject, the personalities selected for the study are Colin Powell, Satya Nadella and Arnold Schwarzenegger who served in different capacities in the American society.

Understanding the traits that contribute to difference in tactics deployed by leaders, demands that one explores the cultural influence as the determinant of the behavior.

The influence of leadership theories described as technique is a derivative of the culture of a person. As noted, the culture affects principles, values and visionary tactics deployed in accomplishment of goals as well as strategies that the leader uses to influence others.

Colin Powells background in military and upbringing in a conservative African American setting influenced the adaptation of the structured approach he exploited in his service in political positions. He embraced the situational approach that made him appease many in the political circles albeit appearing as a strict task oriented person. He shared similarity to Satya Nadella when it comes to promoting conservative ideals.

Satya Nadella is transformative leader who strives to improve the welfare of all Microsoft employees due to cultural influence. He did spend most time in a conservative setting in India and the interaction with nonnatives in the country who included engineers aspiring to invent things inspired the transformational trait of the leader. The transformational trait differentiates him from Arnold Schwarzenegger who appears liberal and delegative.

Arnold Schwarzenegger worked as an entertainer before exploring a career in public service, but he maintained his style of leadership as reflective in the methodology he exploited in administering services to the people. He preferred delegating duties and that made him appear liberal. The trait was a reflection of the influence of upbringing as an immigrant in a contemporary American society.

The three leaders visionary actions affirm that the comprehension of the culture of the society that breeds a leader is critical. The knowledge helps one visualize the factors that influences a persons leadership style.


Leadership involves steering the efforts of others towards accomplishments of specific set of goals. The task requires exploitation of individual traits mostly influenced by culture as discussed in the case of Colin Powell, Satya Nadella and Arnold Schwarzenegger


Leaders and the Contribution of Cultures on their Leadership; Colin Powell, Satya Nadella, and Arnold Schwarzenegger

Leadership entails directing the efforts of the others towards a common goal. In most cases, an individuals cultural background influences the behavior or the leadership style of the person. The conventional approaches exploited by leaders as identified in the works of Northouse (2015) are the situational, delegation, trait and transformational strategies. In the contemporary American society, examples of personalities who have exercised the theoretical models in leadership position include Colin Powell, Satya Nadella, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The mentioned leaders exploited some of the theoretical strategies of leadership in serving the public. Colin Powell, for instance, exploited the situational tactics that affirm the influence of military background on his style of leadership. Satya Nadella is a transformational leader committed to diligence in duties since he steered causes that benefit humanity. The trait is attributable to growing in a conservative setting. Arnold Schwarzenegger is delegative and such is attributable to previous experience in entertainments industry and life in a cosmopolitan setting (Krakoff, 2005). The similarity of Colin Powell, Satya Nadella, and Arnold Schwarzenegger is that they are visionary and committed to their ideals since most spend their lives in the American society where the culture cherishes meritocracy. However, to understand the role of culture on the leadership of the persons, the exploration of the similarity and differences in styles that Powell, Nadella, and Schwarzenegger exploited in duties is critical since the aspect play a shapes human behavior as discussed in the paper.


The behavior of a person is a sum of cultural influence and intuitive decisions. It is on this premise that the paper asserts that the exploitation of a leadership style by a person is a reflection of cultural influence on the actions of a leader. An exploration of the actions of Colin Powell, Satya Nadella, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, in their leadership affirms that the American leaders exercised duties differently but they were all visionary. The uniformity in attributes such as being visionary is attributable to an upbringing in the American setting that reinforces values such as teamwork for excellence. The differences in the techniques exploited by the leaders are equally prevalent because the leaders grew up in different homes. They also engaged in professions that inculcate values that make the leaders differ from one another. Personal principles of the leaders also played a role in the variation of leadership theory exploited in the accomplishments of objectives. However, the aspect that accentuates the variation is the respective cultures (Northouse, 2015). The actions of the leaders are memorable since they have affected my life as a student. I intend to emulate their zeal in duties.

According to the biographies of Colin Powell, Satya Nadella, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, all the leaders grew up in different backgrounds before venturing in careers that inculcated in them values reflected in their leadership in administrative positions. Colin Powell, for instance, grew up in New York in a low-income neighborhood and has spent a significant amount of times serving in the military (Zarefsky, 2007). As a result, the exposure has had a profound impact on the situational style of leadership exploited by the former State Secretary. Satya Nadella spent his childhood in India before venturing in a career in engineering. He schooled in the country before relocating to the US for further studies from where he ventured in leadership. Due to the experience, the culture in Indian and relations with personalities in the technology sphere has had much influence on the transformational leadership approach exploited by Nadella. Arnold Schwarzenegger, on the other hand, spends teen years in Austria before moving to the US where he participated in sporting and acting that had a profound impact on his delegative leadership as governor of California. Courtesy of the leader, I aspire to approach communal task using similar tact in future.

An examination of Colin Powell, Satya Nadella, and Arnold Schwarzenegger styles of leadership according to leadership theory suggests that the three exhibits tactics that differ immensely with slight resemble in aspects that demand exploitation of universal ideals in leadership. According to Zarefsky (2007), the variation is attributable to the influence of culture on the character of the individual. Powells action shows dedication to mentoring through the exploitation of military ideals. Satya Nadella advances the same agenda, but he infers to engineering principles that make him transformational in an organization setting (Williams, 2014). After his appointment at Microsoft, he presented to the employee's letters which is an indication that he intends to continue being transformational as the chief executive while holding the values of the company dear. He plans to transform processes through innovation but maintain the values of the company. Arnold Schwarzenegger engages in environment conservation missions and philanthropy after serving in the political position. He intends to champion principles learned in the past to improve the well-being of the masses just as Colin Powell and Satya Nadella are doing in different capacities.

The biography of Collin Powell indicates that African American culture and Jamaican lineage of the parents had a profound impact on the choice of careers as well as leadership principles exploited as a young adult (Huey Yiing, & Zaman 2009). Before joining political leadership, the leader's approach to duties was reflective of the environment influencing his behavior. As depicted in his book titled My American Journey, desire to improve the well-being of the masses in the society inspired the diplomats commitment to joining the military after years of schooling. His commitment to working with other soldiers in Vietnam War and Panama wars before joining politics affirmed the patriotism of the leader. Powell learned situational leadership from the parents who encouraged him to address different issue based on circumstances. He grew up in a cosmopolitan environment that demanded that one interact with the rest on a day-to-day basis. As a soldier, Powell exuded the situational trait by working with a team comprising of recruits from various backgrounds (Zarefsky, 2007). After joining governance as secretary of state, Powell continued with the model. He knew how to adjust to the situation since he expressed his cool even in difficult times. The trait is attributable to service in the military where the leader learned the way of maintaining his temper. His actions made me revere him as a leader.

As the secretary of state, Powell embraced the structured approach in inspiring the rest to prioritize task as a team success prerequisite. He encouraged subject to sacrifice personal ambitions over the common good of the nation a situational cause (McCleskey, 2014). The manner in which he delegated duties suggested his commitments to values inculcated to the person by the parents and mentors. His curiosity as a leader through interactions with like-minded political leaders indicates that Powell culture encouraged him to emphasize the need for one relating with others in duties. The same manifested for most time he rendered duties as a general in the army. Today, he exploits situational tact as a public speaker and a mentor to the young. Former soldiers who served together with Powell in missions describe the former secretary of state as honest and diligent. The same is said of his service in governance. Despite disagreements with democrats on diplomacy, the leader approached task with much zeal. The action affirmed his desire to prioritize the interest of his nations.

Satya Nadella as a leader of Microsoft, on the other hand, has exercised duties slightly different from the approach exploited by Collin Powell. He has served in the positions for close to two years, and he comes out as a transformational builder. Most of his actions are geared towards improving the image of the brand he represents. The transformational trait makes him resemble Powells move of championing the cause of governments in his duties as secretary of state. However, unlike Powell, Nadella shows commitment to conservative values in some of his undertakings. He exercises caution before implementing a decision at the company and such suggest Indian culture influencing his actions (Huey Yiing, & Zaman 2009). The leaders response in times of crises expresses demeanor as a trait yet such is uncommon for many individuals in the corporate sector. He visualizes challenges as an opportunity to transforms situation and such makes one a situational leader (McCleskey, 2014). Nadella comes out as inspiration and such is attributable to growing up in a family where the parents emphasized the need for people to commit to causes that improve the wellbeing of humanity.


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